Life With Limitations: Stirring

Life With Limitations: Stirring

Stirring

 

Standing at the window looking out through the February gloom, the rain coming down day after day, it would be easy to let that gray overcast creep into my attitude. There may not have been a light shining outside, but I am a gardener and I know where to find my source of SAD mood-altering light (Seasonal Affective Depression), along with the treatments for symptoms of early onset cabin fever. I grabbed an umbrella and headed for the greenhouse.

 

I rolled back the door, stepped inside, closed the door behind me, and there I stood in another world. It was so quiet you could hear a mouse peeing on a wool rug, only the sound of misting rain on the roof. I stood there surrounded by the quiet and the aloneness. Not even a cat had followed me to the greenhouse needing attention. I do have to carry my phone in case of an emergency, but sound is turned off. I turned the furnace up, turned the overhead lights, paused and took a deep breath. This was waking up in another world.

 

There were containers of all sizes on the floor beneath the benches that I had moved in late last fall. The intent was to give them some extra time to put on a bit more growth, then awaken early after dormancy giving me a head start with container arrangements. A few containers were the original nursery pots waiting for transplanting to new containers and possible companions. Most were larger, beginning with 12 inch clay and moving up to 24 inch composite in size. Lots of possibilities to play.

 

While taking a close look I saw that my plan was working. There were green noses in the clump of Trillium nivale, two of the clematis were showing new leaves. That was just what I needed to get all excited, ready to spring into action. Then I realized there were some new rules to follow. With COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, emphysema) there are restrictions to carrying and dragging heavy containers around. This all has to be organized and thought through before jumping into action. First up, if I am going to move those containers up on to a bench to receive more light they have to be moved before I water. If I do water no walking back and forth with watering cans; get the hose out and turn on the water. Some containers I can move, but not all at one time. The larger ones I will need to leave alone and get help in moving. Pulling and pushing weight is about the same as carrying.

 

The stopping and thinking took a bit of wind from my sails, but I reminded myself that I had spent the past two years coming to grips with the reality of having this disease. Now was the time to put head work into practice if I was to take care of my health and continue to garden in my new world of limitations.

 

As it turned out, my body took care of how much I accomplished. I found I did not have the energy nor strength to lift all the containers up on to the bench. What remained would wait until another day; after all, there was no deadline on completion of the task. I could complete that tomorrow and water with the hose. The rest of the project, the large containers, can wait until my wife is in the greenhouse with me. I will say there are times when patience, asking for help, is more difficult than the doing. Then I have to continually remind myself that being hard-headed has consequences.

My latest book is in first edit now. Stay Tuned.

 

Living With Limitations: Anticipation

Living With Limitations: Anticipation

Anticipation

Hellebore x garden hybrid random seedling

 

Gardeners, or this one at least, live in a different world. Usually one of anticipation. Looking forward to that best garden ever next season, or soon as that order(s) arrives with name-your-plants. Ever the optimist even when discouraged by the present.

 

February Funk

The first week of February is here and I am sitting at my desk looking past a stand of orchids in bloom, watching it rain. The rain that has been going on for days and forecast says more rain tomorrow. Today one of the things I anticipate is seeing Noah and his famous Ark glide past my patio as it floods. I awoke to lightning and thunder this morning, along with warm near record breaking temperatures. How can one enjoy those temperatures with a walk in the garden if Noah’s Ark keeps getting between me and my garden?

 

A strange kind of anticipation.

For me, it is a strange kind of anticipation as I am working on deadlines for a feature article and a one page story, both with photos, to be published in State by State Indiana Gardening magazine. There is always a lead time so what I write this gloomy, rainy, day will not appear until the May/June issue. Photos will, of course, come from previous years summer gardens. While I may not be able to get out into my garden, I sure can do a lot of gardening in my mind.

 

Winter Aconite adding some sunshine to the winter garden.

Now

All of the lessons about practicing being in the present, living our lives now, paying attention as we go, awakening from our dream state; all those psychological states of mind are instructions most of us are aware. We may, or may not, practice what we know but we are aware. Not easily consistently accomplished, and especially for gardeners who seem to always have one foot in the future. Anticipating that next plant, that next season when things will be better, we are confident for we have found the magic wand of the present to wave over the

garden’s future.

 

Waning Wand

I am finding that my wand is waning on me of late. As my garden and I have aged together we have decided that the magic of just one more plant is not necessarily a wise answer. Yes, I will still purchase some plants, but my magic comes from analyzing my gardens as I write and describe my garden to others. I can look over many years of photos of my garden and the individual plants for the months of May and June, see all the lessons presented to me. Lessons I can use to keep from waving my wand over and over and getting the same results as in the past. I can have the magic of hindsight and foresight at the same time.

 

My Anticipation

My anticipation for this year’s garden is to make what I have more effective by moving plants around to create better combinations. After each change, I anticipate sitting on a garden bench and critiquing my work and enjoying the reality of being there, so I suppose you could say I anticipate not anticipating.

Keep Reading. Won’t be long now before the announcement. 

Living With Limitations: Counting

Living With Limitations: Counting

Arum italicum, green in the winter

Counting

 

Taking Time

While daydreaming about my garden, all that I want and hope to do come good weather, if and when it ever arrives, perhaps it is time to take timeout. Not the kind of timeout your mom gave you, but perhaps a pause in focus. It could even help with cases of cabin fever that may be developing. I decided to take some time out to do a bit of counting. Not the kind of counting Scrooge Mc Duck does, but rather other ways in which I am indeed a wealthy man.

 

Counting Health

I have my first appointment of the new year with my cardiologist this week. While sitting in the waiting room I will get to see what I always see while I wait my turn. Patients much worse off than I. Does that cure my health problems? No. But, I do get to see reasons to be thankful for where I am in the progression of my diseases. Some of the people in that room, perhaps sitting next to me, will not be there when I have my next appointment. I am still here, and in the upright position, when some of my friends can no longer say that. While I am not exactly overcome with an exuberance of happiness with my diagnoses, I sure am glad the warnings came early enough that I have time remaining to garden.

 

Counting Talents

When I look inside to see what I may have to contribute to the world around me I find I am fortunate beyond belief. While my writing may not be on the level of Conrad or Faulkner, I tell myself that all things are relative. I do get to express myself and occasionally I find it gets read. That is a great honor, and truth be known, writing if far more satisfying to me than perhaps the reader.

Related to my writing are requests for me to speak on occasion. How many people get the opportunity to tell tall tales about their gardening, to have baskets filled with opinions, and get paid for expressing them. When I give a presentation, it takes every ounce of what I have to give and when the last hand has been shook, the last hug given, there is nothing left. It is a double edge sword in that speaking has both exhaustion on one side and satisfaction on the other.

 

I still find the time and strength to gather up my tripod, camera and notebook along with a cup of hot tea, and head up the hillside into my garden. The photos I capture are like portraits of my children. I have raised them from seed or transplant to adulthood and now, with a parent’s pride, I get to show them off, perhaps brag just a bit.

Combing the visual with text and speech completes the illustrating of my garden, of sharing. We both know a garden is not a “true” garden until it is shared.

Time for afternoon Naps

Counting Gardening

Gardening as way of life has changed for me, but I am still out there gardening, weather and doctor’s appointments permitting. Of all the good things in life I have to celebrate I count gardening at the top of my list. Even when I cannot actively garden with my spade as companion, I can still walk the paths and be a part of, know a connection to, the earth where I am told I came from and will return.

 

Tallying Up the Counting

I may not be able to swim in gold coins as does Scrooge Mc Duck, but I can wade a shallow stream of wealth. No, I cannot purchase every plant I want, bring home the containers I covet, or purchase the hardscaping, even make that pilgrimage to PA to see Longwood Gardens. But, that may not be a bad thing, for it forces discipline upon me.

Above all, I have you to share my story with. Thank you.

Keep Reading. Won’t be long now before the announcement. 

 

Living With Limitations: It Was Only Natural

Living With Limitations:

It Was Only Natural

 Hiking

Many moons ago, when I first moved to Indiana, it wasn’t long before I began hiking the woods along bluffs of the Blue River. At that time I was interested in the views and simply walking beneath the trees. Then I purchased a home about five miles from the old farmhouse I rented, still within walking distance of those Blue River bluffs. I began my nursery which had a strong element of shade loving native wildflowers and found that the more my nursery grew the less time I had to hike. Finally, the nursery grew until it was years before I would return to my hikes.

 

Yellow hellebore bud opening. First of the winter blooms

Visitors

All during the years of visitors to my nursery I would hear of the wonders of natural trails to hike in Indiana, the drifts of native flora, breathtaking vistas of stone and water. Every time I heard of these natural wonders I made mental notes to be sure and take the time to visit. Which I never did. I was always too busy growing woodland plants in my garden, talking about them, taking photos and lecturing. I made many promises to myself, and to fellow gardeners, for over twenty years. There may be a lesson about procrastination in there someplace, for I waited to resume hiking until I had health limitations on walking.

 

 

Friend

Having said that, in the dead of winter a fellow gardening friend and I found ourselves hiking a trail at Ouabache Trails Park in Vincennes, IN. While the hike was in mostly along level paths, walking became tiring for me, but at the same time, inspiring and fulfilling for my soul. All my favorites were there; a small stream meandering long sandstone cliffs that were carpeted in a quilt of soft brown fallen foliage, ferns of several species along with mosses. We were the only two humans and quiet was only broken by alternating calls of  “Look over here”.

 

Rob had hiked most of the Indiana nature preserves but wanted to return, I had not been to almost any of them, so a pact formed while we drove away and warmed up. We would return to Ouabache for another hike in spring, make a list of past hikes he had made, while I would get my mental list down on paper, and perhaps do some internet searching. We could then compare and combine notes for an agenda. Come spring and woodland wildflower time we would both be found hiking a trail in Indiana.

 

Hiking Trail at Ouabache Trails Park near Vincennes, IN

Indiana State Parks

Some of the locations that came to mind as we talked was Turkey Run State Park in Marshall, IN., McCormick’s Creek State Park in Spencer, IN, Hemlock Cliffs in English, IN, and Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, IN, to mention just a few. As I begin to think of names of parks the list seems to grow in my mind. I am sure that if I still had a very long life to live I could not see all of the parks available.

 

Christmas fern on mossy rock at edge of stream.

Promises Fulfilled

In returning to hiking I will be keeping a couple of promises to myself. As my garden shrinks and the time I can spend active in the garden becomes less, I will have more time to spend with gardening friends. I have been so fortunate over the years to be blessed with fellow gardeners who I always enjoy seeing again, spending time with.

The place I feel most comfortable in this world is the woods, especially a woodland of my childhood where I played along small streams beneath towering cliffs covered by ferns and mosses. Paths to explore that were formed by nature, wandering and wondering between huge boulders.

What more could one want than combining the two?

Keep reading. A big event you won’t want to miss is in the works. Coming soon (well, relatively)

 

Living With Limitations: It Was Only Logical

 

Living With Limitations: It Was Only Logical

Frozen Falls

It Was Only Logical

 

Inevitable

It would seem the inevitable cannot be stopped, only delayed.

I delayed putting away Christmas decorations, both inside and out, for a full week longer than normal to see if that would help. Nope. I had friends over for dinner who were not gardeners and I did not speak of gardening or a plant all evening long. Even I did not know I could accomplish that one. All to no avail.

All the little green noses I was so overjoyed to see so early are now under the first significant snow fall of the season. Snow does make it difficult to see one inch green noses under a three inch thick blanket of snow. Before the days of climate change one could expect a winter that was winter and it was a constant companion. Now I am continually teased by yo-yo temperatures that give me a glimpse, then snows on my parade. Before I could pretend to be patient for there was no choice.

It Was Only Logical

I am afraid what little patience I may have had melted and ran down the drain like melting snow. So, logic follows that what is inevitable will come to pass. Yes, it was inevitable that I would purchase a plant (maybe two) for my garden in the coming season. I could no long delay what was to come and I placed my first order of the year, and it is only mid-January. I won’t even get to see or pick up the plants until mid-April.

For the Defense

In my defense, I met up with forces beyond my control. From the “good old days” when I owned a nursery I still receive occasional wholesale catalogs. I can no longer order twenty of this and fifty of those for a “total dollar amount order”, but I can still dream over the color photos and descriptions. This time it was a catalog of shrubs. All the dwarf, semi-dwarf colorful foliage shrubs that many of the retailers would be selling in decent sizes this coming season. I spoke of the catalog to a friend who manages a small garden center and she said “drop off the catalog and I will see what I can do”. I circled shrubs of interest, ones I already had, and gave her the catalog. Couple of weeks later she sent me a listing of shrubs she would be ordering which included many on my lust list.

Unknown witch-hazel cultivar blooming in my garden.

Oh, MY!

Oh, my. I now have access to nine of the shrubs on my lust list in three gallon sizes. I have agreed to take five when they arrive and probably will return for some or all of the other four. Fellow gardeners, that is pure, undulated, craziness for someone who has a problem carrying a heavy spade up the hill into the garden, much less dig and transplant shrubs. But, that will be in April, and today I am strong enough to carry my dreams of spring.

Visions

I found Diervilla Kodiak Orange to play companion to the D. Black transplanted last spring. Two dwarf Hydrangea, Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha, and H. Tuff Stuff Red to go with H. Little Tuff Stuff I transplanted last summer. I continue to be fired up with Spirea, and selected the new Double Play Gold, then picked another Weigela Monet Sunset to go with last years’ Midnight Wine.

Now I will be anticipating pickup of the order for the next two months.

Keep reading. A big event you won’t want to miss is in the works. Coming soon (well, relatively)